Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 helps slow appearance of new variants
Nov. 30, 2021 -- As health officials around the world work to understand the latest COVID-19 variant to cause global concern -- now known as Omicron -- it's important to remember the best way to fight against the emergence of new versions of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is by getting vaccinated.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), viruses constantly change through mutation as they make their way through the population. Reducing spread -- through common techniques such as masks, social distancing, hand washing, and, most importantly, vaccination -- limits the opportunities for a virus to change.
"Since the vaccines became available, it has been a race to get shots in as many arms as possible before a variant comes along that is more contagious, causes more severe illness, or even beats the vaccines," said Thomas Huth, MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs for Reid Health.
"Now we're seeing some waning effectiveness in the prevention of spread for those who were among the first to be vaccinated. For those people, it is imperative that they get a booster shot when eligible not only for their own protection but to again reduce the virus's opportunities to mutate."
Variants are classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) into one of two categories -- Variants of Interest and Variants of Concern -- based on how easily they spread, how severe are the symptoms they cause, and how well vaccines and other safety measures protect against them.
There have been five variants to be defined as Variants of Concern, including Delta -- the version that fueled the latest local wave of cases beginning in late July -- and the newly discovered Omicron.
So far, the COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be effective against the variants that have appeared, but health officials worry that might not always be the case.
The vaccines cause cells to imitate a harmless spike protein from the coronavirus, teaching the immune system to recognize and fight the virus. But mutations in that spike protein on the coronavirus could cause it to evade the body's immune response.
"Since the vaccines became available, it has been a race to get shots in as many arms as possible before a variant comes along that is more contagious, causes more severe illness, or even beats the vaccines." -- Thomas Huth, MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs
One of the reasons why Omicron already has the Variant of Concern designation is the number of mutations on its spike protein. Whether that will prove to be a problem for the COVID-19 vaccines will be determined by health officials over the coming weeks as they continue to study the new variant.
COVID-19 vaccinations are FREE and widely available, including at Lingle Grand Hall on the lower level of Reid Health's main campus in Richmond. Hours there are 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. All three vaccines are available at the site.
Anyone 18 and older also can get a booster shot at the same location provided it has been either six months (for Pfizer and Moderna recipients) or two months (for Johnson & Johnson recipients) since their initial dose.
Appointments can be made by going to ourshot.in.gov.
Today's COVID-19 stats
- Patients in containment areas: 38
- Number of those patients who are unvaccinated: 31 (81.6%)
- COVID-19 patients in the ICU: 5
- Number of those patients who are unvaccinated: 4 (80%)
- COVID-19 patients on ventilators: 2
- Number of those patients who are unvaccinated: 2 (100%)
- Tests submitted since last update: 374
- Lab-confirmed positives since last update: 55 (14.7% positivity rate)
- Suspected COVID-19 admissions in the past 24 hours: 23
Unvaccinated, as defined by the CDC, includes anyone who either has not received a dose or has received only the first of a two-dose vaccine.
Reid Health serves an eight-county area, including Wayne, Randolph, Henry, Union, Fayette, and Franklin counties in Indiana and Darke and Preble counties in Ohio. The statistics above represent patients from throughout the service area.
- You should never delay care. Previous surges have seen patients put off necessary care for emergent issues such as chest pain, stroke symptoms, appendicitis, and even symptoms of cancer. Delaying care can have life-altering consequences.
- COVID-19 vaccines are FREE. They are safe. Make an informed decision by consulting sites such as the CDC and FDA.
- Indiana residents can find vaccination sites and schedule an appointment by going to ourshot.in.gov. Ohio residents should use gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov.
- If you need to be tested for COVID-19, Reid offers drive-thru testing at 1200 Chester Blvd. in Richmond. Appointments are required and are available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. To schedule an appointment, call Reid's COVID-19 Hotline.
- Those with risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness might qualify for an infusion of monoclonal antibodies, a treatment designed to help your immune system fight viruses. The infusion works best when given within a few days of the start of symptoms and can be given regardless of whether you've been vaccinated. For more information, call Reid's COVID-19 Hotline.
- The COVID-19 Hotline staff can assist with scheduling a test, receiving test results, and seeking clinical advice. The hotline is open seven days a week by calling (765) 965-4200. Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Before you come to a Reid Health site to see a loved one or accompany them to an appointment, be sure to check our latest visitor policy and screening procedures.
- Surgical masks are required in all Reid Health facilities. Cloth masks are not acceptable. Reid will provide you with a surgical mask upon entry if needed.